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The Thames Valley Rugby Football Union is hugely disappointed Hauraki Plains College has ditched playing in the Thames Valley 1st XV competition and will instead play in the Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union 1st XV competition. This baffling decision was communicated on 7 April – three days after the Thames Valley Secondary Schools Council met to agree a draft 1st XV rugby draw to be distributed by the end of that week. Three other HPC teams – Senior Girls, Junior Girls and Junior Boys – will continue to play in Thames Valley competitions.

On 8 April an HPC representative responded to an TVRFU email seeking clarification, saying it “was a strategic decision by the Board of Trustees with regards to the best opportunities for HPC students” and a subsequent email on 12 April stated the switch was to cater for a number of the Boys 1st XV who originate from Bombay, Pukekohe, Hunua and Clevedon – areas outside of HPC’s enrolment zone.

A letter sent by the TVRFU Chair to the HPC Principal on Thursday 14 April to “respectfully request a meeting” and “agree a way forward with HPC in working together to achieve the aspirations of the Union and College and protect the integrity of rugby in our region” has still not received a response.

With the season rapidly approaching TVRFU could no longer defer finalising the 2022 draw for our Schools Rugby and advised the HPC Principal on Friday 29 April that the Union would obviously have to continue without HPC’s 1st XV.

This decision was regrettably forced upon the Union, as was the Board’s resolution that HPC 1st XV players, in playing in another Union’s competition, could not be eligible for selection in 2022 Thames Valley representative programs, upholding the intent of the Thames Valley Secondary Schools Council Rules and Regulations.

The Board is extremely frustrated at the position HPC has put our secondary schools rugby and representative programs in. We work hard to be an inclusive organisation with the community’s best interests at heart and will continue to support the schools and players who register with, and remain committed to, the province, including the three teams HPC has entered in our competitions.

While the Union is dismayed at the impact on the other Boys 1st XVs in our region, we want to stress that we will continue to engage with HPC in good faith about resuming competition in its long-standing traditional home.

Paul Nisbet | General Manager | Thames Valley Rugby Union